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Austin area businesses required to reduce capacity as COVID-19 hospitalizations increase
(Austonia)

Austin businesses are required to reduce capacity to 50% after Sunday marked the seventh consecutive day that COVID-19 patients exceeded 15% of hospital capacity.


Establishments required to roll back their capacities include retail stores, office buildings, manufacturing facilities, gyms and exercise facilities and classes, museums and libraries—all of which have been allowed to operate at 75% since Governor Greg Abbott introduced Executive order GA-32 in October.

The order lays out that establishments that had been operating at 75% capacity must limit their capacity to 50% in areas where the number of COVID-19 patients exceeds 15% of the total hospital capacity for seven consecutive days.


On Jan. 3, Trauma Service Area O's hospitalization rate surpassed 15% and has been increasing since. Travis County is one of the regions included in this TSA, which is designated for the purpose of developing a trauma system that is consistent with patient care of the region.


According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, 18.8% of its total hospitalizations are COVID-19 patients in TSA O, as of Sunday.

The executive order also states that establishments, such as bars, that are not restaurants cannot offer services indoors. They can, however, continue to offer drive-thru, pickup or delivery options. Outdoor services are allowed provided businesses comply with COVID-19 safety precautions.

Establishments that are not included in the order include religious services, local government operations, child care services, youth camps, recreation sports programs for both youth and adults, public or private schools, or drive-in events.

Establishments, where licensed cosmetologists or barbers practice their trade with six feet of social distancing between workstations, are also able to forgo the occupancy limit.

The order also states that elective surgeries must cease to allow for more room in hospitals.

Despite two counties in TSA O, Lee and San Saba, submitting and qualifying for attestation to stay open ay 75%, Travis County has seen significantly more than the maximum of 30 COVID-19 cases required to qualify for an attestation. As such, Austin businesses can expect to remain at 50% capacity until hospitals can reduce the number of COVID cases.

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